Thames Path – Sheperton ferry to Staines-on-Thames

Unusual house on the Thames with unusual ornaments.
Unusual house on the Thames with unusual ornaments.

The weather was sunny and Helen fancied a quiet day pottering around the house, I um’d and ah’d about a local walk but settled on another section of the Thames. You can get a bus from Staines-on-Thames to Sheperton and it takes 20 minutes. The walk would be less than 10 miles but would get me almost to the M25 which would be a milestone and Staines would be easy to get to for the next leg which would take me to beyond Windsor and Eton.

I arrived in Staines-on-Thames at 10:25 and parked up at a car park opposite the bus station, but the next 458 was due to leave at 10:59, so I had a mediocre coffee at Coffee Corner at the entrance to the shopping centre. The 458 was on time and I was soon back at Sheperton train station, and walked down to the ferry where I had finished the day before.

Polar bear on a balcony at a house on the Thames
Polar bear on a balcony at a house on the Thames

Guessing that the path would be muddy I wore my walking boots it was a good choice as the path was muddy at times. At Laleham I took a slight detour in land in search of a coffee shop, but found nothing, I had to settle for an oyster from and ice cream van at Penton lock. I had spotted a few strange fibre glass objects on houses since the start of the walk, some sun having shop mannequins, a Stan Laurel, and finally just before Penton lock a polar bear. Whilst eating my ice cream quite a few two man canoes were portaged round the lock it appeared to be a race as they were mainly jogging and support crews were on hand with energy drink and treats.

It was less than two miles to Staines-on-Thames and was done quite swiftly. I toyed with the idea if walking a bit further but saw a sign that said 10 miles to Eton, which was perfect, I’m sure I saw a bus service to Eaton from Staines. Just as I got back to hr cat it started raining as promised by the BBC weather service.

The Brunel tunnel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames London
Isambard Kingdom Brunel Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames London

Ian Visits came up trumps again the Brunel Tunnel under the Thames is open for the weekend due to a line upgrade to convert from four to five carriages per train. I got in quick and managed to get myself a ticket before that sold out less than an hour later.

I was up early and managed to get the 08:46 to London Euston from Berkhamsted, which unusually had no free seats. On arrival I used Google maps to find out how to get to the Brunel Museum at Rotherhithe. You may not be aware but Google recently announced it had all the public transport times so when you ask for directions not only does it know which trains and buses to use it knows when the next one is. This is a great improvement on trying to read the bus maps that have no road names and then work out the coded bus stop you need to be at.  It suggested Victoria line then Jubilee but I fancied the bus so set the options for buses only. 68 then change at Waterloo bridge to the 381. The 68 arrived as I got to the bus stop.

Wapping Tube Station
Wapping Tube Station

It was still raining when I got off the bus at Waterloo bridge but there was some sun to the south in the distance which was good because I was lugging three cameras with me. The 381 took me past the Kirkcaldy museum of material testing which I had visited a few weeks before. The bus passed through some interesting areas where you could see that there had in the past been companies that manufactured goods. For example I saw a building with a painted sign for a company that made tin boxes. Further on there is evidence of shipping with old warehouses, pubs with nautical names (The Shipwrights) and even the London nautical school. By the time I got off the bus the sun was out.

Once alighted I followed the signs to the Brunel Museum and the staff there directed me to Rotherhithe station which was the correct place to congregate. I was early but they let me join the queue, but not before I stocked up on batteries for my flash. I would have to wait for the allotted time but thanks to my trusty insulated foam sheet was able to sit down while I waited, all the time the sky got bluer and the clouds more fluffy and white.

Thames Vista HDR
Thames Vista HDR

The 1100 tickets were called and we were guided into the closed station, and given blue surgical gloves to put on, then told to gather at the top of the escalators then we were taken down the steps to the platform of the station. First we had to have the obligatory Health and Safety briefing which explained why we had to wear gloves, dirt and weil’s disease so don’t touch stuff and then suck your thumb. We then stepped down on to the track and were led into the tunnel, our guides explained some of the history and features of the tunnel when we stopped every 30 metres. Eventually we came to the next station Wapping where we crossed over and went back up the other side to where we started. Then we left the station via the escalators not forgetting to throw the gloves away and disinfect our now sweaty palms.

As the weather was bright I decided a walk along the Thames path would be nice and provide plenty of photo opps . I followed Jubilee walk which keeps you as close to the river as is possible and you get to see some interesting buildings, most of them dock related so lots of converted warehouses with cranes sticking out of them. Just as it looked like the next shower was due I came across the Design Museum and popped into the cafe for a sandwich and coffee it was pretty average and cost £8.50!

Tower Bridge over the Thames London
Tower Bridge over the Thames London

Tower bridge was nearby so I carried on and crossed the bridge and attempted a panorama set at the mid point. On the other side was St Catherine’s dock always a good place to take photos so had a wander around. There are old buildings, boats and bridges. From there I headed towards the tower of London, then consulted Google maps for an escape route. At the no. 15 bus stop I got chatting to a fellow photographer who had a spirit level bubble in his hot shoe. I have one but it is a sharp cube that stands proud he had one that was more or less flush. He said he got it from Amazon and with the power of the internet so did I got just £1.99 a bargain.

I alighted at Aldwych and walked over the road and jumped on the 68 to Euston. It was pouring down at Euston and I had 10 minutes to spare before the 14:54 to Northampton . I grabbed a coffee and a paper then headed home to process my photos.